At about 4:45 p.m. Central time on May 26, I finished the first draft of the novel. 334 pages. 82,000 words. It took everything in me not to type “The End” to make it official. I reached this milestone on the back patio of my sister’s house in Glen Rose, Texas. A huge grin came over my face. Then I felt like bawling. Then I felt like shouting. Then I grinned some more.
Alone for the afternoon, I had no one to tell in person and cell service was spotty out in the country. I actually didn’t feel like telling anyone at first. I kept downplaying the significance. My heart wanted it to be a big deal but my mind took the critical road, reminding me it was a ‘draft.’ “What’s the big deal about a draft?” it said. “Draft means unfinished.”
When my sister got home from work I asked for a hug and she asked me what was wrong. I said nothing was wrong but that I finished the first draft of the novel. She hugged me like nobody’s business and insisted she and I go out to dinner.
Facebook friends have been enthusiastic over the news, which helps me give that critical voice the finger. I texted Micki, my friend and fellow writers’ group member. She called, shouting her congratulations from Durango, Colorado. I could feel her smile through the cell phone, which was going in and out, but I got the gist of the message. She understood the significance of the moment because she had experienced the same gamut of emotions after completing the first draft of her book last October.
Like Micki did with hers, I took my draft to a photocopying place and made spiral bound copies for the writing group to review and mark up. Then my sister and brother each wanted a copy. I ordered six and charged a hefty amount to my credit card. Worth every damn penny because it gave me a substantial and ceremonious way to say “This phase has ended! Hallelujah and all that!”